I will try to make this review as truthful and honest as I can. My wife always wanted to try a cruise so I booked a western med cruise for 14 nights on the Independence of the Seas. We did the online check in,paid for 4 excursions upfront and prepaid the tips, so that we had anytime dining so all well and good so far. We stayed in Southampton the night before so got to docks around 11am, parking was prepaid so very easy, check in was just like any other holiday with tight security, except that after going through security we saw first hand someone having their bottle of drink taken off them I now know realise why. Got onto ship which was very impressive told to go for food to windjammer cafe on deck 11, not shown where to go or how to get there just pointed in general direction remember we have never been on a cruise or cruise ship which was very poor. However I will skip a bit forward the overall ship was very big,very clean and very impressive, the cabin attendant was superb,the dining room waiters were superb and food fabulous.
The bad things were that when we went to book the ice show on the second week the information desk girl just told us that the tickets were given out on day three of our cruise and had all gone, I explained that we had never cruised before but she was very abrupt and showed us what it said in the daily compass for the previous week which I was very annoyed about because she had a major attitude problem and basically said it was all our fault.
We had my time dining but wanted to sit on our own this proved very difficult as they always tried to push you to share large tables and it was not until the last 3 days of the cruise that they finally let us have a table for 2.
They wanted you to take the drinks and soft drinks packages which were really expensive, we did not because I like a drink of cider and this was not included in the packages any way so a bottle of cider was $8.50 or Â£5.70. We had a bottle of German wine with dinner $56 or Â£37 and the same bottle of wine is sold in Morrison's supermarket for Â£7.99, so the overall impression is the they inflate the price of alcohol because you have to buy it from them and cannot take any on-board.
The trips we did we explored on our own but had a tour guide to and from our destinations which is definitely the best way to do it
But overall taking everything into account the cruise was what I consider to be good value for money and we paid Â£3800.
One last thing I would say is that if you don't mind what type of cabin you have or where it is situated I would leave it to last minute to book because some people who we chatted to paid a lot less than us.